Fans right to boo us, says Bilic despite Sakho’s dramatic winner
With West Ham struggling to string together even the most basic attacking move, it took little more than 20 terrible minutes for the first groans and jeers to tumble down from the stands of the London Stadium. In many ways, it was a surprise they did not start sooner.
Such was the total lack of spark or imagination in West Ham’s performance against a Swansea City side who are well organised but severely lacking in attacking impetus.
Slaven Bilic’s team showed on multiple occasions last season just how adept they are at sapping the energy out of their new home, and this was another chapter in a story that makes for particularly drab reading.
And yet, somehow, after 90 minutes of suffering, it was a tale that had a happy ending. Diafra Sakho, the striker who tried to force a transfer in the summer by going to Chelmsford races rather than training, emerged from the substitutes’ bench to steal in at the back post and relieve some of the pressure on his beleaguered manager.
“The way we approached the game was must-win,” Bilic said. “So we have done the job.”
But he added that his side “deserved to be booed”, and no one in claret and blue will be kidding themselves that there was any hint of progress in this showing. Other than the goal, there was almost nothing for the home fans to cheer. They even booed when Andy Carroll was named man of the match.
“The fans want the best for the club and they are demanding,” Bilic added. “We did not play good in the first half. We were poor. It was not good enough.”
The London Stadium has seen this all before, including the somewhat fortunate final score. It was lifeless performances such as these that led to Bilic facing major pressure this time last year.
It is surely not too much for the supporters to expect their side to attack teams like Swansea at home. To have a go. Only in the dying moments did Bilic’s side really threaten, with Carroll striking the woodwork before Sakho popped up at the far post to prove he was the horse for this particular course.
The match had started badly and, frankly, got worse. Both Michail Antonio and Carroll scuffed half-chances, while Wilfried Bony went closest for the visitors with a long-range drive that was fisted away by Joe Hart.
Tammy Abraham was non-existent for Swansea, while even a military search party would have struggled to find Javier Hernandez in the West Ham attack. Swansea did at least play the better football, but they have only scored three goals all season.
“The least we deserved today was a draw,” said manager Paul Clement. “We have to create more chances and score some goals. We are not doing that at the moment.” Still, they were heading for a deserved point before West Ham substitute Arthur Masuaku injected pace down the left and drove across for Sakho, the forgotten man who became the unlikeliest of heroes.
Forgiven: Diafra Sakho won the game for West Ham after trying to force a move during the summer